The Top Concerns for Seniors Today and How You Can Help

As a group, seniors are facing everyday challenges that are causing stress, feelings of incompetence or failure and instead of being able to solve these issues, it seems only more are added.   It is important that we understand and empathize with these challenges so we are able to provide solace and assistance to our elderly loved ones. Here are some of the main concerns facing seniors today:

Loneliness

A common social concern for seniors is that as they grow older, feelings of loneliness creep in. As we get older, our friends and partners also grow older. A lot of seniors lose these friends and their spouses either to growing health issues or even death. It is important that we spend time with our loved ones and encourage them to spend time with any of their remaining friends. This will help to ensure they feel they have support systems and they are not alone. Considering a pet can also help to create daily companionship.

Financial Issues

Living is expensive and as a senior, a lot of healthcare costs can become cumbersome. As we grow older, it becomes more and more important to keep an eye on our health. This means doctor’s appointments, testing and medications. Although in Canada, we do have great healthcare coverage, it does not cover all of the costs. There is also a higher mortality rate and seniors are living to be a lot older than they once were. All of these possible health concerns and medications can end up costing quite a bit of money, which will impact a senior’s retirement savings.

Other unexpected costs can also affect a senior’s retirement savings. The rising cost of living affects seniors who are on fixed incomes. Their savings won’t cover the higher and higher inflation we face in today’s society. If seniors run out of money, the logical option would be to go back to work, but this isn’t possible for a lot of seniors who are either unable physically or who face possible ageism in the workplace market and can’t get hired.

For most people, it is hard to take on another’s financial burden, but if you are unable to help your loved one’s by providing financial assistance, you do have other options to help tackle some of the stress they can cause. For some this could be providing transportation to medical appointments or coming over and helping your loved one to prepare meals. This is not a huge financial burden, but has the ability to alleviate financial stress for your elderly loved ones.

General Health and Lack of Independence

One of the largest frustrations for seniors is the physical ageing and the lack of independence it brings with it. A lot of seniors become dependent on loved ones or support workers to help them which can be extremely frustrating. Seniors aren’t able to see as well as they once did or move as quickly as they were once able and often require assistance to do tasks they once found menial or simple. In order to help your loved ones to feel more independent, encourage them to do as much as they are able on their own. Good nutrition and exercise can often help to strengthen the abilities of seniors so they are more able.

The Changing Social Climate

One of the largest hurdles for seniors can be the changing social climate which includes a lot of technological inventions which are ingrained in the abilities of younger generations. Using computers, cell phones and other advanced technologies can prove to be a large challenge for a lot of seniors. Either you can try to help give them lessons on how to use these technologies or look into local classes. A lot of libraries and community centers offer free classes (and wifi) which can help to assist seniors with technology. This way, they also won’t feel dependent on you

Seniors Living in Rural Areas

How to Keep in Touch and Make Sure They’re Safe

It’s always hard to live far away from your loved ones, but as they grow older, their health and safety become a large concern. For most, it isn’t always possible to live near and care for their loved ones, but it is important to make sure that they have everything they need. For seniors living in rural areas, these concerns can be even greater. Rural areas– although great for community, larger green spaces and cleaner air—often don’t have the same support systems in place. There are fewer care facilities and often your loved ones must travel much further to access even the most basic necessities. To keep your mind at ease, here are a few suggestions to stay in touch and ensure their safety.

Hire A Care Worker

When you hire a care worker, you can rest assured that someone is with your elderly loved one often. They will be able to update you on your loved one’s health and overall happiness. This will allow you some peace of mind in knowing that your loved one is safe and looked after, but also in knowing that they have a companion. For seniors that may have mobility issues, hiring domestic help will also ensure that their home stays clean and they are having healthy meals prepared.

Check in Often

It’s important to keep in touch. Call your loved one a few times a week to see how they’re doing. This is a nice way to check that they’re okay, but it also allows you to catch up on what’s going on in their daily life and to keep them updated on what you’re doing.

If your elderly loved one is technology savvy, send them an email to let them know you’re thinking about them. There are also many free video chat services like Skype that allow you to see each other. This is a great option if your loved one has a computer with an available webcam.

Have A Communication Plan in Place

At times, life gets busy and its easy to forget to check in on a loved one. By putting a communication plan in place, it’ll be easier to keep track of the last time you spoke and how your loved one is feeling. It will also be a special dedicated time for you and your elderly loved one to be in touch and create memories, even if they aren’t in person. For some, this could be a scheduled call that is set for the same time weekly, making it expected and memorable. For others, based upon their work and social calendars, it may be difficult to set aside a particular time. In this case, plan on a week by week basis and write down the time and make sure it is plainly visible.

Have an Emergency Contact

If you do hire a care worker for your loved one, you have a built-in emergency contact. This will be the person who checks in physically and lets you know if something has happened. If you don’t have a care worker employed, talk to your loved one’s close friends and neighbours. Exchange contact information with them and if at any point you haven’t heard from your loved one, get in touch with that friend or neighbour and have them check in.

Visit

With work, family and your social life, it can sometimes be hard to put aside time to spend time with your elderly loved ones, especially if they live far away in a rural area. Try to schedule a weekend to stay with your loved one, or take a few days off work. The time you spend with them in these visits can create great memories and allow you to feel at ease that they are safe and doing well. You’ll never forget these moments shared and the time spent together.

 

The Best Types of Exercise for Seniors

We all know exercise is important for our health, but did you know that it’s even more important for those over 65? You might worry that your senior loved one will fall or hurt themself, but the benefits of exercise for seniors far outweigh the risks, even for those who are frail or suffering from age-related disease – as long as it’s the right kind of exercise done safely.

Exercise can help extend seniors’ lives and improve their quality of life. It helps seniors prevent falls and injuries, feel strong, and have more energy, so they can remain independent. It can also reduce the risk of developing medical conditions and improve existing ones, including Alzheimer’s and diabetes. It also improves blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

It’s actually more dangerous for seniors to NOT exercise. When seniors aren’t active, their bodies stop being able to do things they once could. Not only are seniors who aren’t active less independent, but they’re more likely to fall and injure themselves.

Now that we know why exercise is important for seniors, it’s time to help them get active! Find an exercise program your senior loved one will enjoy, so they’ll stick with it. Water aerobics, swing dancing, tai chi, and golf are all excellent exercise opportunities for seniors. Many exercises can also be done at home and don’t require special equipment. On the other hand, seniors’ classes at your local community centre are fun, social, and supervised by a trained professional.

There are four types of exercise seniors should incorporate in their routine for a well-rounded exercise program to help them stay fit, happy, and healthy.

Endurance

Also known as aerobic exercise, endurance exercise gets the heart rate up and gets the respiratory and cardiovascular systems working. Doctors recommend 30 minutes of endurance exercise a day for seniors, which can be broken down into three 10-minute periods for those new to an exercise routine.
The best endurance exercises for seniors are low-impact cardio, like brisk walking, cycling, and dancing. Many community centres offer swimming and water aerobics, which are easier on the joints, and fun classes like tai chi, square dancing, and Zumba Gold, a low-impact dance class designed specifically for older adults. When it’s nice out, take your senior loved one outside for a walk, hike, or even a friendly tennis match to add some vitamin D and socializing to their routine. A senior should notice a difference after a couple weeks of endurance exercise – they’ll be able to work out and perform their day-to-day activities without getting winded or tired.

Strength

Strength and resistance exercises build muscle and strengthen bones. Even small changes to a senior’s strength can have a big impact on their life, by making it easier to do everyday tasks like carrying groceries, getting out of a chair, doing housework, and climbing stairs. Strengthening major muscle groups can also help seniors avoid falls and broken bones and prevent osteoporosis and bone loss.
Doing strength and resistance exercises twice a week is recommended for seniors. They can use one- or two-pound weights or resistance bands, and do 10 to 15 repetitions of exercises like biceps curls and chest presses, progressively increasing the weights as it gets easy for them to build strength. They can also do bodyweight exercises that don’t require equipment. Lunges, leg raises, squats, and modified push-ups on a wall can all help seniors get stronger. Seniors can also sign up at a local gym or community rec centre to use the equipment or attend classes.

Balance

Improving balance is very important for seniors because it improves posture and minimizes the risk of falls, which minimizes the risk of injuries. Yoga and tai chi are great activities that help promote and maintain balance, but there are also simple balance exercises seniors can do at home, like standing on one foot, walking heel to toe, back leg raises, and side raises. Practice doing these while resting a hand on a sturdy chair before reaching the comfort level of doing them freestanding.

Flexibility

Flexibility and stretching exercises help seniors stay limber, prevent injury, and reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. It helps them retain their range of motion, so basic daily tasks, like reaching the top shelf and getting dressed, are easy still easy to do as they age. Simple stretches, like neck and leg stretches, can be done at home to start the day or before other exercises. There are also stretching classes designed specifically for seniors, and yoga and Pilates classes available at many rec centres.

Tips for Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

You’ve decided it’s time to move your parent into an assisted living facility, a happy medium between independent living and a nursing home. They’ll get help with daily activities, be part of a community of peers, and retain some privacy and independence, but they’ll also have peace of mind knowing help is only a call away. It might have been a tough choice to make, but you know it’s the right one.
Now it’s your job to find the perfect place that will ensure your senior loved one is safe, happy, and comfortable. Here are some tips to help you choose the right assisted living facility for the senior in your life.

Involve your senior

It can be tempting to choose the place you like best, but remember, you’re not the one living there. Discuss with your senior loved one their wants, needs, and preferences, and get them involved in the search and decision-making process. It’s important that the assisted living facility feels homey and comfortable to them. It’s all about personal preference. Would they rather be in a large facility with lots of people to socialize with and activities to participate in, or a smaller, cozier environment? If they’re not able to participate in the decision-making process, be sure to consider their personality and preferences instead of your own.

Visit

You won’t be able to find out everything you need to know from a brochure. Plan an in-person visit and tour around lunchtime or for an activity or event. This will allow you to see the culture and community at the facility, when the residents are out and about. While you’re there, pay attention to how well the facility is taken care of. Once you get a sense of the place, it’s easier to go with your intuition about which facility feels right.

Look at the amenities

Laundry, transportation services, 24-hour staff assistance, housekeeping, outdoor spaces, common areas – most assisted living facilities offer these amenities. Instead of looking for the facility with the best or most amenities, look for the one that matches your seniors’ needs. What good is gym if Dad can’t move around so easy anymore? But a library, on the other hand, might be more important to him. Whether there is a shared bathroom or private one in each room, is it handicapped-equipped? Whether rooms are private or shared, is there enough storage space?

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Just because a facility is pricey and fancy doesn’t mean it offers the best care. Yes, you want to get a feel for the cleanliness, atmosphere, and facilities when you take a tour, but don’t get distracted by appearances. The fanciest place doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where your parent will be happiest. It’s more important to pay attention to the people during your visit. Are the staff caring and friendly? Are the residents happy? Do they seem like people your parent would like to get to know?

Check out activities and events

Most assisted living facilities offer activities for their residents to participate in. They are fun, give the residents something to do, and help the community come together and socialize. Have a look at the scheduled activities. Would your loved ones be interested in them? Are there outings? If it’s important to your loved one, are there religious services? Try to schedule your visit to coincide with activities and events, and see if they are well attended.

Try the food

Nutrition is important for health, especially as we age. So if your parent hates the food, that’s a problem. Ask if you can sample a meal at the facility. This will give you a chance to see what mealtime is like and if the other residents seem to enjoy the food. Make sure the food is nutritious and appetizing, and ask all your food-related questions. How many meals a day are provided and at what times? Are there different food options that cater to specific dietary needs? Can residents bring food back to their room or cook their own food if they have a kitchenette? Can visitors join residents for meals or in a private room for family events?

Get reviews and feedback

In addition to talking to the residents and their families when you visit, look online for ratings and reviews. Talk to friends who have already gone through the process. Ask for their honest opinions. You might even consider consulting with a senior advocate or geriatric care manager. This type of experienced professional can make the decision much easier.

Consider the cost

Realistically, money will likely be a determining factor in choosing a facility. However, as we’ve mentioned above, pricier doesn’t mean better. Different facilities have different price structures, and the cost will likely depend on your senior loved one’s personal needs, so it it’s important to get a clear answer from the staff. Make sure you know what’s included and what’s extra. Room and board might be a flat rate, but there might be an additional charge for services like laundry, transportation to appointments, medication management, bathing assistance and meal delivery. Does the price depend on how much care a resident requires? Make sure you understand the billing and payment, and get a sense of how rates have gone up in the past.

Feel confident about the care

To know you’re making the right choice, you need to feel comfortable with the health care provided and know your senior loved one feels safe and secure. How is the care plan developed? Are the staff well trained? How are emergencies handled? Is there 24/7 nurse staff? Be realistic about both current and future health care needs. Make sure the facility you choose is equipped to handle your parent’s needs now and as they age, so they don’t need to move again soon. This will give both you and your senior loved one peace of mind.

Location isn’t everything

Sorry to say it, but convenience for you shouldn’t the top priority when choosing an assisted living facility for your parent. You should choose the facility that best suits their needs, not one that is 10 minutes closer to you. Sure, you may say that if it’s closer you’ll visit more, but that’s usually an unrealistic expectation. Plus, if your parent is happy, has made friends, and is busy doing activities, you won’t need to visit every day.

Struggles of the Sandwich Generation – and How to Overcome Them

What is the sandwich generation?

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you fall into sandwich generation. The sandwich generation describes a generation of people, typically in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, who are sandwiched between two generations. They care for and support their own children and their aging parents – financially, emotionally, physically, or all three.
There are a couple of trends that have led to this phenomenon. On one hand, people are waiting longer to have children, and those children are being cared for even as adults. Think kids moving back home post-college, and adults still living with their parents or getting financial support from them (Sound familiar?). On the other hand, life expectancy has increased and people are living longer. And with smaller family sizes, there are fewer people to share the responsibility of caring for seniors as they age. As a result, there are many people, both men and women, who are the primary caregivers for both their children and their parents.
According to Statistics Canada, the sandwich generation includes over 2 million Canadians. They are usually juggling full-time jobs in addition to supporting three generations at once: their kids, their parents, and themselves.

The challenges

Balancing a job, supporting kids, and caring for elderly parents can be consuming and take a pretty big toll physically, emotionally, and financially. While it’s not all negative, and many senior caregivers find it rewarding to give back and find that is strengthens their relationship, there are many struggles and obstacles that those in the sandwich generation face:
• Mental and emotional fatigue
• Financial burden
• Burnout and exhaustion
• Less time for social activities
• Poor sleep habits
• Stress and frustration
• Less personal time
• Mental health problems (depression and anxiety)
• Less career development
• Difficulty managing their time
• Feelings of isolation and guilt

Tips for the sandwich generation

Yes, it’s difficult. But no, it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to make life easier for those in the sandwich generation:
• Assess your financial resources – re-budget to figure out how you’ll cover the costs and plan ahead for your personal goals, so you don’t get left behind.
• Take advantage of the applicable tax benefits claiming your parent as a dependent and applying for a family caregiver tax credit might be beneficial for you.
• Communicate – get your situation, including financial, out in the open, so the whole family knows where you stand.
• Spread the workload – get your kids to pitch in with household chores and have siblings and other relatives help take care of your parents.
• Consider having your parent move in with you.
• Accept help from others – you don’t have to do everything yourself. When people offer to help, let them!
• Set financial boundaries – determine how much you are willing to spend on each dependent a month, a don’t go above that amount,
• Get professional caregiving assistance – use BookJane to help you find a qualified senior or child care provider for an extra hand when you need it.
• Sleep when you can.
• Look on the bright side – it’s great that you get to spend so much time with loved ones, so try to enjoy it, find humour, and laugh as much as possible.
• Don’t try to control everything – let your children and parents be as independent as they can be.
• Take care of yourself – if you are suffering from medical issues, like anxiety and insomnia, make sure you get proper health care too.
• Help your kids get financially independent as soon as possible – teach financial literacy early on, and keep them informed with your family planning.
• Don’t forget to eat, sleep, and exercise.
• Consider counseling – or online support groups to cope with the stress of caregiving.
• Be kind to yourself – you need to take care of yourself in order to better take care of others. Give yourself a break, go to a yoga class, have a spa day class or an evening out with friends to recharge your batteries.
• Talk to your employer about benefits – many companies offer flexible working hours, telecommuting, and employee assistance programs.
• Get creative with senior care financing – have an estate sale or use your parents’ investments.

Tips for Spring Cleaning with Your Kids

It’s that time of year again. The snow is melting, the birds are chirping, and you’re starting to notice dust in all the nooks and crannies of your home. Time for spring cleaning!

It can be a daunting task to clean your home from top to bottom, especially for a busy parent with a hectic household. But it shouldn’t be a job just for you – the whole family helps contribute to the mess after all! Make the kids part of the solution rather than the problem, and have them help with spring cleaning. Whether you’re scrubbing every inch or focusing on organizing and decluttering, you could use an extra set of helping hands, no matter how little. Here are some tips for getting the kids involved in spring cleaning!

Find the right tasks

This is important, because if you give your child a task they don’t like, they’ll get bored and hate cleaning, and if you give them a task that’s too hard, they’ll get discouraged and hate cleaning. For a toddler, vacuuming the living room is too difficult, but putting away their toys is just right. Not only should the task they’re given match their ability, but they should enjoy it and find it rewarding too. Give them options and let them decide which chore they want to do first. It will be more fun for them (Many kids actually find swiffering and dusting fun!), and they’ll feel in charge, so they’ll take charge.
While you should encourage your kids to help clean the common spaces, it’s also important to get them in the habit of taking responsibility for cleaning their own things, like febreezing their gymnastics bag, for example. Just remember to have realistic expectations here – if you ask a preschooler to make their bed, they probably won’t be able to do it perfectly, but appreciate that they’re trying and let them know what a good job they did.

Be specific

You’ve probably already noticed that when you just ask your child to clean their room, nothing gets done. If you really want your child to get involved, you’ve got to start them off with small, specific tasks. So instead of giving them the general instruction “clean your room,” let them choose a specific task to start with, like cleaning their desk, organizing their book shelf, or putting their clothes away. For older kids, it’s best to give them a specific time frame too. They probably won’t jump at the opportunity to tidy up as soon as you ask them to, but if you ask them to do it by the end of the weekend or before they go to a friend’s house, you’ll have much better luck.

Make it fun

Yes, you read that right; housecleaning can be fun. Try turning it into a game to make it feel less like a chore. Set a timer and have the kids pick up as many toys as they can off the floor before it goes off. Call out a colour and have them pick up and put away everything that’s that colour. Some friendly competition can be a great way to motivate kids. Who can find the most markers with no lids? Who can pull out the most clothes that no longer fit them? When you’re going through the closet, set up baskets labelled “toss,” “save” and “donate,” and have a blast shooting clothes into the right bin like your favourite basketball stars. You’ll have so much fun you’ll forget you’re cleaning!

Play some tunes

Another tried and tested way to make cleaning fun is blasting some beats, so the whole family can disco while they dust and tango while they tidy. For little ones, you can find lots of “clean-up songs” and other great music for kids. Older kids can make a playlist of their favourite songs to crank up while you clean. Challenge your kids to finish a small task by the end of the song, and let them boogie down if they finish early. It’ll make the time go faster, and you’ll burn some extra calories.

Set aside time

Doing a thorough spring cleaning can be a process, so give your family time to work on it with no distractions. Write in the family calendar that Saturday afternoon everyone will be clearing out their closet, or Sunday morning you’re going through the pantry and scrubbing the kitchen together. But be realistic. You can’t expect to get everything done in an afternoon, and you also can’t expect your kids to spend their whole weekend cleaning. Instead of trying to get everything done in one long session, spread the job over a couple of weeks, devoting a couple hours each week to spring cleaning.

Work together

Make spring cleaning a family event, and show your kids how teamwork makes it easier to get a big job done. Not only will working as a group help motivate your kids, but it also makes cleaning more fun! Instead of sending the little ones in to scrub the tub all alone, have Dad join them and polish the fixtures while you shine the mirror. You can get in some good family time and conversation, and your kids will learn cleaning techniques from you and pick up on your positive attitude towards cleaning.

Don’t overdo it

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you definitely won’t be able to make your home spotless in a day either. So don’t push your kids too hard or overwork them, or they’ll put up a fight and resent cleaning. Take breaks, so they don’t get burned out. Break up the cleaning into smaller tasks and more manageable chunks of time. While the kids should be involved where they can be, hire a babysitter to get the kids out of the house while you tackle the more challenging tasks, like cleaning out the garage and attic.

Offer incentives

To motivate your kids and to show your appreciation for a job well done, there’s no shame in giving your kids rewards. They might be sad they’re getting rid of their old things, so get them a new toy they’ve been asking for as a thank-you. They may complain that they have to clean, but they won’t give up if they know an extra hour of screen time is their reward. After spending a Sunday afternoon cleaning, reward the family with a pizza party and movie. This shows that if they are willing to help out, you’re willing to do them a favour.

Do good

While you’re cleaning up, get rid of anything that’s broken, the kids have outgrown, or that hasn’t been used in a year. Not only will you feel cleansed and rejuvenated, but you can do some good with the things you no longer need but are still in good condition. Help show your kids the bigger picture by donating these items to a charity that helps families in need. You could also throw a yard sale, which is a great opportunity to teach kids about money. Ask the kids to make signs, gather supplies, sort the inventory, and even be the cashier. You can keep the profits and donate whatever doesn’t get sold, or give all the proceeds to charity.

5 Things Grandparents Can Learn from Their Grandkids

Grandparents are full of wisdom, so usually we think about how they can bestow knowledge onto the younger generations. But there’s a lot older adults can learn from kids too. Grandparents might have a lot of life experience and know about family history, but kids have a different perspective on the world and know all about the current trends. Here are some things kids can teach their grandparents and some reasons you should make sure they get to spend lots of time together.

Technology
Most grandparents didn’t grow up with a lot of technology, so it might seem complicated to them at first. But once they get the hang of how to use new technologies, with their grandkids’ help of course, they can make their lives a lot easier. They could download Uber app to their iPad, for example, and use it to get lifts to run errands and go to appointments. Technology is also a great way to communicate – whether it’s through email, texting, Skype, or Facebook. Kids have grown up with these gadgets and social media channels, so they can easily teach Grandma and Grandpa the basics. Not only is this an opportunity for them to bond, but it’s also a way for them to stay in touch. You’d be surprised how many seniors use social media to stay close to loved ones and reconnect with friends from the past!

Determination
Kids can be very determined. They are learning how to do things on their own, and they want to be independent and do everything themselves. From tying their shoes to learning to read to riding a bike, they believe in themselves and don’t give up. Seniors can learn a lot from this attitude. It could inspire them to try something new they’ve always wanted to do, like learn how to swing dance or make gnocchi from scratch, and encourage them not to give up with the hobbies and tasks they’re already doing.

Video games
Yes, that’s right! Seniors can get a lot of benefits from video games. Not only are they a fun form of entertainment, but they get seniors up and moving, giving them some exercise and mental stimulation. So the next time Gram and Pap come to visit, why not have your kids teach them how to play Wii tennis and set up a round robin for some friendly competition.

Pop culture and current events
Especially today, kids are plugged into everything that’s going on in the world. Seniors, on the other hand, might start to feel disconnected from the modern world as they age. But kids can keep their grandparents informed and let them in on the latest trends, whether it’s the news, popular musicians, or the latest blockbusters and TV shows. A grandchild might want to share her most recent playlist with Gramps if he loves music. Maybe a grandkid would like to introduce his grandmother to some new TV shows, like Breaking Bad, or take her to the movies to see an Oscar-nominated film. This not only gives grandparents and grandkids something to talk about and do together, but it also helps grandparents feel in touch with the world and gives them some conversation starters.

Living in the moment
Kids know how to have carefree fun. They jump feet first into puddles, not worrying about whether or not they’re wearing rain boots. Where you see a cardboard box, they see a castle. Kids can teach seniors how to look at things with fresh eyes and how to let go and have fun. As people age, they can become cynical, unhappy, and anxious about the future, so spending time with grandkids can help remind grandparents that life is short, and we should enjoy it.

10 Ways to Make the Babysitter Hate You

You’ve found the perfect babysitter. They’re always on time, they’re great with the kids, and they can get your little Sophia to bed without a fuss. Now you want to make sure you don’t lose them. Just like you don’t want just anybody watching your kids, babysitters don’t want to babysit for just anyone. Here is a list of common pitfalls not to fall into if you want to your babysitters to work for you again.

1. Don’t welcome them
A surefire way to get off on the wrong foot with a babysitter is to not greet them properly. When you welcome a new babysitter into your home, act excited to see them and show them around. This accomplishes two things. Firstly, it sets the tone. When the kids see you’re friendly and excited to see the babysitter, they’ll follow suit. Secondly, giving the babysitter a warm welcome helps them feel comfortable. Don’t forget to give them a quick tour too, so they can get familiar with your home. It’ll be much easier for them to make the kids dinner if you show them around the kitchen before you go, and they’ll be grateful you showed them how to turn on the TV once the little ones go to bed.

2. Leave them with no information
You can’t just walk out the door when the sitter arrives without giving any information. Emergency numbers, behavioural problems, allergies, medications – this is all information your sitter needs to know for safety reasons. Some information, like when you expect to be home, you can just tell the sitter before you go, but important information, like the phone number you can be reached at, should be written down and stuck on the fridge. The safety stuff is important, but don’t forget other information that might be helpful. Does your child have a specific bedtime routine? Is there an easy way to calm them down from a tantrum? What’s the wifi password? Providing this info will make the experience go smoother and be much more enjoyable.

3. Leave a novel of instructions
Yes, you don’t want to leave the caregiver clueless and empty-handed, but leaving pages upon pages of instructions, rules and schedules doesn’t do any good either. The babysitter has experience and knows what they’re doing, so there’s no need to micromanage. You don’t need to describe how your child likes to eat apple slices at 6 p.m. while playing Clue Jr. Let your child decide when they’re ready for snack, and whether they want to play Clue Jr. or Monopoly. If the sitter is too caught up in the details of the instructions, they won’t be able to pay attention to your kid.

4. Surprise them
Surprises are for birthday parties and presents, not for babysitters. It’s not fair to forget to tell the sitter about your Saint Bernard. What if they’re allergic to dogs? It’s also not fair to tell the babysitter you only have one child, and then wait until they arrives to tell them your child has a playdate and they’ll also be watching four other kids from the neighbourhood. Babysitters need to know what they’re in for ahead of time so they can be prepared and make the proper arrangements.

5. Linger
The absolute worst thing you can do when you leave the house is have a long, drawn-out, dramatic goodbye. Yes, there may be tears. It’s a good thing you’re leaving your kid with a child care professional who knows exactly what to do! Coddling, hovering, and spying will only make things worse – we promise. The sooner you leave, the sooner they’ll stop crying, so stick to a quick, cheerful goodbye, and get out. Your babysitter will thank you.

6. Check in too often
You would probably be pretty upset if you found out the babysitter was texting and calling friends while watching your child, so you shouldn’t want them on the phone with you the whole time either. It’s reasonable to check in on a new sitter once or twice, but texting every few minutes, calling for updates constantly, and demanding pictures of playtime is way too much. You should have left the sitter your number, so let them call you if there’s a problem. Show them you trust them, give them space, and let them focus on your child.

7. Make them do too much
Yes, it’s okay to ask the babysitter to clean up after dinner or help with some homework. But to expect that they’ll go over and above the job description, like wash and fold the laundry or do a whole science project, is a definite no-no. Babysitters are there to watch your kids; they’re not maids. If you have any special requests, make sure it’s agreed upon in advance – don’t just spring it on them. Keep it simple with the sitter. Just ordering pizza makes it easy on everyone: your kids will enjoy the treat and the babysitter will get to spend time with your child instead of worrying about meal prep and clean-up.

8. Come home late
If you expect your babysitter to arrive at the agreed-upon time, the same should be expected of you. The babysitter might actually prefer if you stay out and party longer (more hours means a bigger paycheck), but you never know. They might have another job booked or plans with friends after you come home. Delays happen and might be outside your control, but if you know you’re going to come home later than you told the sitter, at least give them a head’s up, so they’re not up all night worrying.

9. Don’t pay them on time
This is a common scenario. You get home from your night out at the movies, you bought popcorn and candy, and now you don’t have enough cash to pay the babysitter. “I’ll pay you next time you babysit,” you say. Don’t! Your babysitter did their job – they kept your kids alive and well while you were out, and now you have to live up to your end of the deal. What if they don’t babysit for you again, or you don’t need them for a few months, and they were depending on the money now? Before you get home, make sure you have enough cash to properly compensate the babysitter. Lucky for you, the BookJane app negates this issue by automatically charging your credit card through the app, no tip needed!

10. Cancel last-minute (without paying)
Remember, the babysitter set aside their time to work for you with the promise of being paid. What if they turned down another gig to work for you? What if they planned their schedule around your day? Cancelling at the latest possible moment is unfair and frustrating. Same goes for coming home early. It’s great that you come home early, but what if the sitter was counting on the money from those extra hours? If you cancel on short notice or come home earlier than you anticipated, it’s common courtesy to pay your sitter anyway.

Benefits of Companionship for Seniors

You’d love to spend more time with your senior loved ones – especially if they live at home alone. But with your busy life, you might not always be able to offer the support you’d like to. BookJane can help you find an in-home caregiver to provide companionship for your senior loved one. Companions not only provide physical assistance, but they can also help seniors’ physical, mental, and emotional health, improving their overall quality of life. Here’s how.

Physical health and safety

Having someone around, especially someone that has first-aid certification (like the caregivers you’ll find on BookJane), can be a huge comfort to both you and your senior. Not only would a companion be there to help if an emergency or health issue occurs, but a companion who sees the senior on a regular basis might notice and physical changes or changes in mood that could be a sign of a serious health problem. Additionally, studies have shown that seniors who feel lonely and isolated are more likely to report poor health, and that depression and isolation can reduce someone’s life span. Regular social contact, like you’ll find with a companion, could keep isolation and depression at bay, reducing the risk of health problems.

Help with daily tasks

As seniors get older, some everyday chores – like making lunch, taking out the garbage, and getting dressed – get more difficult to do. While these tasks may become a frustrating and a struggle for an aging adult, they can be easily accomplished by a companion. Having a little bit of extra help fulfilling these daily tasks and physical needs allows seniors retain some their independence and dignity, living comfortably at home without feeling helpless or like a burden to friends and family.

Staying active and engaged

A senior living at home alone might not get up and interact with people on a daily basis. Having a companion gives them a reason to be mobile and do activities, even if it’s just for a quick walk outside or playing a card game. They can help plan outings and also provide the transportation, making it easier for the senior to get around participate in activities they love. Companions don’t just keep seniors physically active, but they also keep them mentally alert too. Engaging in conversation with others and playing simple memory games helps keep the brain sharp  and lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Social connection

As a senior and caregiver spend time together, a strong bond will naturally form. This social connection and friendship helps fulfill the seniors’ emotional needs and improve overall quality of life. Having someone to do activities with and talk to – to share memories, thoughts and feelings with – adds fun and joy to seniors’ lives, especially when they would otherwise be alone. It also lifts their self-esteem and helps ward off depression and social isolation. Social engagement is known to be one of the biggest predictors for health, happiness, and longevity, which only gets more important as we age.

Child Care Options for March Break

Your kids are probably already talking about March break; they can’t wait to be on vacation from school. You, on the other hand, might not be quite as excited. March break can be a stressful time for busy and working parents. Working parents usually don’t get as much vacation time from work as their kids get from school, so you may need some extra support. Since most kids are off at the same time, the sooner you make your child care arrangements for March break, the better. But what are your options?

Take time off
If you can swing it, working from home or taking the time off is a great way to take a break from your normal routine and make March break special for you and your kids. Visit the aquarium or catch a matinee of that new animated film – or just stay up past bedtime eating pancakes in your PJs. You can do fun activities, go on outings, and spend quality time together making memories. Since you’re already taking the time off work, it could be opportunity to plan a family vacation. This option may not be feasible for all parents, but perhaps you and your partner can split the time, each taking off half the week or alternating days.

Family and friends
If you’re lucky enough to have friends or relatives willing to help you out, you might as well take advantage. So you don’t feel guilty, offer to reciprocate playdates with a stay-at-home friend or neighbour by watching their kids on the weekend. You can also check if your kids’ grandparents are available. They’ll be thrilled to spend time with their grandkids, and might even let them stay the night. It can be difficult to depend on the kindness of others for a whole week, so make sure you have a solid plan B in case these arrangements fall through.

Hire a caregiver
For a dependable, convenient and personalized child care option, use BookJane to help you find a qualified child care provider in your area. The benefits? They’ll come right to your home and give your children their undivided attention. Plus, you only have to book them (and pay them) for the hours they’re needed, which works well if you don’t need child care full-time for the whole week. Having a babysitter at home is a fun break from your kids’ usual routine, and you get the peace of mind knowing your kids are in good hands while you’re at work. If your kids really hit it off with their Jane, you can use them to watch the kids on future date nights!

Child care centres
Many daycares, child care centres, and before-and-after school programs that you might already use regularly offer extended services to coincide with school holidays like March break. While this may seem like an obvious choice, getting ready and going to a child care centre feels a lot like the same old routine of going to school, not like a break for your kids. However, it is a fun, safe place your child can spend the day. Spots fill up fast and priority is usually given to parents who use their services year-round, so reserve your spot as soon as possible.

March break camps
Many community centres, YMCAs, museums, and after-school classes offer week-long programs during March break. They cool thing about these is they’re interest-based, with camps focused on everything from sports to science to art. This will be a similar routine for you, with packing a lunch and doing drop-off/pick-up, but it’s a blast for the kids, who’ll get to learn new skills in subjects that interest them, participate in awesome activities, and make new friends. Book your spot early; programs like these also fill up fast, and some can be quite pricey.